Sharon's Biking Blog
The All Female Slapper Day Out
Blog date July 2018
I wake up early. After weeks of unprecedented sunshine here in the UK the rain has finally cometh. By the look of the dense covering of grey cloud it will be here for the day. The swaying trees also show it is blustery too. I don't mind the rain so much, I dislike the wind though very much.
One thing I have loved about this summer is not only have we had hot glorious sunshine but the air has also been still. I have spent some much needed snatched me time sat in my garden. Luxuriating in the quiet stillness, the only movement being of my own design as I swing in my favourite rattan chair.
My most special reading spot.
We have enjoyed a fantastic summer of riding this year
The earth, the grass and the hill fires all need this rain. Unfortunately The World's Largest All Female Biker Meet does not. My phone pings as ladies now report to me they will no longer be attending. I am sad the weather has put some off but not surprised. It is a double whammy, rain and high winds do not a pleasant motorcycle ride make.
However some hardy souls are also reporting their intention to still attend. So of course I will be going too, as a legendary rain goddess you know I am use to the wet stuff. As an all year rider I also have experience in riding in windy conditions.
As Ren pointed out in a recent post I am not a novice rider any longer. I do not like giving up my novice badge. I take a lot of comfort from saying I am just a beginner. It gives me leeway and a reason for mistakes. Claiming I'm no novice leaves me expected to know how to ride. Me, know how to ride...? Arghhh surely not. Ren says otherwise with my nearly 5 years on a bike and close to 40,000 miles under my bike tyres.
I guess the fact that today's weather does not phase me at all shows my experience, or my stupidity.
So what is The World's Largest All Female Biker Meet all about then? Well it is about hundreds of lady motorcycle riders all coming together in one place to clinch the world record.
A previous record for the amount of female riders in one place at one bike meet in one day was originally set in 2015 when 618 lady bikers met at the Ace Cafe in London. This record was broken in 2016 when 1002 got together in New South Wales in Australia. Then in 2017 the UK meeting place was held at Lynn's Raven Cafe, a truck stop in Whitchurch, Shropshire. 1,132 female riders came together to bring the record back to the UK.
The intention this year is to beat last year's figure. Lynn's Raven Cafe will once again be the venue. The present torrential rain together with the increasing number of Facebook posts saying the weather has put many off attending tells me that is unlikely. But if enough riders brave the elements you never know, maybe it is possible?
My choice of steed is Zen the little Keeway RKS 125cc. This poor boy has been neglected of late and his recent MOT revealed the shocking truth of his neglect. Not mechanical neglect unless you count the horn (Motorcycle, MOT And Horn) more mileage neglect and abandonment. A shocking 993miles was all I had clocked up on him last year. Poor Zen. He has been overshadowed by his big sister Envy who clocked around 7000 miles.
Ren is coming along too. No we are not hoping his long hair will fool anyone. The male riders are equally welcome they just have to park in a separate car park on arrival so only the females are counted.
The rubbish weather should not make a pleasant ride but I am enjoying the challenge of the wind and rain. I am strange, I know I am. The destination is only a hour and half away and all is just fine until we get close to the truck stop. The road is closed. We see numerous flashing lights and emergency vehicles ahead. Looks like a biker down. Well if the weather hadn't managed to dampen my spirits this has. I send healing thoughts and hope whom ever is down is not seriously injured.
Ren finds us an alternative route. It is on a single track through the woods. Ahhhhh bliss, this is what Zen was made for, single tracks and a wandering. I dream of a bike trailer for Zen. A car could do the motorway and then Zen could be released into the wilds in the middle of nowhere to go exploring. That would be perfect. The Kawasaki Envy is made for longer journeys because she handles motorway speeds with ease. She is OK on tracks too but Zen is excellent on them.
We finally arrive at the meet. Ren is directed to the - errm - rough surface car park and I am directed to the smooth tarmac one. I ride in and I am surprised by numerous shouts to stop, stop! Why what's the matter? Ahh I see I have to stop for a photograph, whoops.
My official Bike Insurer photo who were sponsors of the event. Thanks to Dave Jackson from The Bike Insurer for this amazing photo, doesn't Zen look grand.
I park up and immediately see my friends Denise and Mark, how fabulous to see them both . Then who should appear but the lovely Louisa. Regular readers will know Louisa as she has posted up regularly on BAT about her learning to ride journey. She is now a fully fledged rider and has come today on her Honda Freddie. It was an absolute pleasure to meet her at last face to face. I feel so proud to know that our BAT posts helped her in some small part on her journey from nervous beginner to the confident rider before me today.
Another lady can ride success story for Louisa and Freddie.
A fellow blogger and motorcyclists told us to look out for her. Jenny Linn-Cole said she would be taking photographs and wearing purple. With such a good description Jenny was easy to spot. We exchanged a brief hello and then left her to get on with her photography as we needed a brew (https://roundbritainrumble.wordpress.com/).
We take refuse from the rain to fill our bellies in the Midway cafe as I await the arrival of another couple of ladies I hope to meet here for the first time. Both of these ladies, Jane and Cherri have also ridden the spectacular Picos mountains in Spain this year. I am excited about swapping tales. (Northern Spain 2018)
Unfortunately I get a message from Cherri that a rider in their group has gone down. Although the rider is not seriously hurt her bike needs rescue so Cherri is waiting until the bike is recovered. Damn it seems the rain has brought the diesel to the surface on the roads around here making for a slippery when wet surface.
The weather has been unkind today
Eventually as rain stops I go back to my bike to put away the waterproofs. I am only number 252 and I did not arrive until 12:30pm. As I look around the car park it seems clear this will not be a record breaking day. The last bike in at the moment is 348. The shut off time has been extended slightly. Obviously the hope is that now the rain has stopped we might tempt a few more last minute riders out.
Number 252 for Zen.
I wander over to the Motorbike Women stand and chat to the ever vibrant Jackie. Jackie and the other ladies involved in the Motorbike Women Facebook group have done a sterling job in promoting and encouraging lady riders everywhere. It provides a welcome haven where ladies can ask for advise and share their inspirational stories with one another. I am tempted to buy another of their great t-shirts but I already have one so I resist the urge.
Jane arrives and I go over to say hello and chat. She is a lovely lady and we talk about how fantastic Spain was and how we both would return tomorrow if we could. Cherri arrives at the last minute. Well done to her for she was one of the last to be counted. Despite the weather, despite the mishap of one in her group going down this gutsy lady made it. What a determined woman. Due to her late arrival I only get to say a quick hello. Hopefully I will get to meet Cherri again for a longer chat. Cherri rode her 125cc bike around Spain, I should have known she was a woman of mettle.
The final total of the day was 443. No it was not a world record. However I salute each and every lady that braved the hideous weather and rode through wind and rain to attend. You should all be proud that your actions to continue to promote lady riders around the world.
Ladies coming together to share their love of riding
The ride home starts off lovely. It is dry, the sun creeps out from behind the clouds. We are riding bendy back lanes, this is a joy, this is wahooo, this is Arghhh what the hell! As I curve around a corner my handle bars take on a life of their own. They jolt violently side to side. I have no control over the bike as it jerks erratically to the hedge on the other side of the road.
It all happens suddenly and no doubt quickly but as is ever the case in a situation like this fear somehow quickens the mind and it is amazing how much you can think in a short space of time. I consider the possibility that I am about to crash, that I am going to be hurt a lot. I am closer to the hedge than I ever want to be. All I can do is gently hold on and hope I survive.
I have been here before. I have experienced a tank slapper on Zen previously. That terrified me and I hoped it was a one off but this situation is even more scary because that hedge is coming towards me and there is nothing I can do about it. I prepare for impact. By some miracle at the moment of no return the bike stops shaking, I regain control and by a cats whisker I steer away from the hedge.
I am stunned, how the hell did I get away with that? How did I and Zen survive intact? The scare tempers my speed a little but not by much. I guess there is a lot more confidence in the rider I am now than the one I was when I had my first tank slapper. I dropped to crawling pace that day after the event. I am far happier to put it behind me quickly and carry on regardless today. However it has troubled me as I need to know why this has happened again.
Once home as I unpack my bike I find a white feather. It looks like I had my guardian angel riding with me today. This may explain me surviving and it makes me smile.
My own skills may have helped me survive as well. I never touched the brakes. I held the handles as loosely as possible. This was more instinct though than clever design. But I cannot rely on my angel always being my pillion so I once again research the possible reasons for tank slappers. As usual there is no conclusive answers. Theories, possibilities but nothing concrete.
Rider's weight is mentioned, a lighter rider may be more prone to a tank slapper so that's a possible for me. A stone may cause a oscillation to occur and it was a dirt track so another possibility. Mismatched tyres is another one as I do have mismatched tyres on Zen.
Hmmm tyres, I have had mismatched tyres on Zen for a long time. I have mismatched tyres on the Kawasaki. However my first tank slapper on Zen only occurred once I replaced the front tyre with the Heidenau. I never liked it the minute I got it fitted. I always felt it made the bike less stable at speeds higher than 50mph. I had a nagging doubt that it caused my first tank slapper. Ren however would test ride the bike and say it felt fine. I now realise that if weight comes into play then what may feel fine to him may not feel fine to me.
I have no concrete evidence that either tank slapper was down to the handling in some way being altered by the Heidenau tyre. But my instinct says so. So I am going to change the tyre as I doubt I will feel safe until I do so. When I bought the Heidenau tyre there was only that and one other to choose in that size. However looking today there is much more choice. Looks like I best get my purse out.
So there you have it a day full of wonderful female riders and slappers...of the tank kind definitely not the female kind for they were all ladies don't you know.
We'd love to share more lady rider articles here at Bikes And Travels. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Stuart said :-
Thanks for the write up. As I've said before I'm a member of the MCN ride 5000 Facebook group and sent a new lady rider to your blog as she was looking for advice about starting to ride. I'm not sure who it was though.
Did you have a breakfast while you were there as there is a photo of someone who looks similar to you in the MCN paper this week?
7/8//2018 8:17:48 PM UTC
Sharon said :-
Thanks so much for recommending our site. I hope we can be of help to this new rider.
I did not have breakfast but I did enjoy a lovely chilli. So not sure if I am famous or not, haaa.
Have to see if anyone has a copy to show me.
8/8//2018 9:25:37 AM UTC
NigelS said :-
Sorry to hear about the tank slapper, always frightening on a big or little bike. The Heidenau could well be to blame but it might be worth looking at two other possible causes; worn or loose headset and/or unbalanced load with too much weight over the back wheel. Just a thought.
14/9//2018 12:40:02 PM UTC
Sharon said :-
The trouble with tank slappers is there is no set reason why they happen. No one really seems to know why. Many theories abound but there is no consensus.
Therefore when you have one there is no one answer, no one fault to rectify.
Thanks for the suggestions as all possibility are worth considering. In my case at the time of event I was not carrying anything on the back of the bike other a very small bag with only a jumper and disc lock in. Headset was not a problem either but like I say all suggestions welcome so thanks for putting these forward to me.
18/9//2018 12:59:14 AM UTC
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